Wellington Scoop

Learning to say no

Wellington’s regional councillors were unexpectedly strong last week when they opposed Transport Agency plans for a new road through the Takapu Valley. They need to keep up the same strength this week when they have a chance to reconsider increases in bus fares.

Regional councillors haven’t always shown a willingness to oppose plans which they didn’t like. At the end of 2011, it was evident they were unhappy about Transport Agency plans to build a concrete flyover alongside the Basin Reserve. But under the strong control of Fran Wilde they obediently voted for it regardless. Which makes their opposition to the Agency’s Takapu Valley proposal quite surprising. But it proves to any doubters that they can, occasionally, say no.

Which brings us to the subject of increased bus fares. The Regional Council announced them on February 14, in a news release which skirted around the intention to increase cash fares in the CBD by 50 cents a ride.

Since then, the city council has also gained strength and has come out against the increases. On May 14, the council’s submission to the regional council asked for the fare increases to be reconsidered. Two days later, we published an article in which Councillor Nicola Young argued powerfully against the increases. And today, three city councillors have echoed the submission in a statement asking not only for cheaper fares but also for a 50 per cent discount on offpeak travel.

All of which makes powerful opposition for regional councillors to consider. Though they didn’t find the strength to oppose the flyover, their new-found willingness to oppose Takapu Valley should give them confidence to reconsider the bus fare increases – even though they’ve already announced them. The arguments against increases are too strong to ignore.

28 May: Regional Council changes its mind, decides not to increase bus fares